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Farm Bill Conference Up and Running- Pat Roberts Holds the Keys to the Caddy- Hoping to Drive Across the Finish Line Quickly

Wed, 05 Sep 2018 09:29:03 CDT

Farm Bill Conference Up and Running- Pat Roberts Holds the Keys to the Caddy- Hoping to Drive Across the Finish Line Quickly U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a public meeting of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee.

“This is the eighth farm bill that I’ve been a part of during my time in public service. The circumstances are always a bit different, but we all have a history of working together in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to find solutions and to get farm bills done,” Chairman Roberts said. “If it was important then, it is even more so now.”

“The goal, the responsibility, the absolute requirement is to provide farmers, ranchers, growers and everyone within America’s agriculture and food value chain certainty and predictability during these very difficult times. This is paramount to many other issues and concerns.

“Both the House and Senate recognize this need. Clearly, both have taken the steps to get us to this point today. We are very close to the finish line, but we still have a lot of work—a lot of compromise—that remains to be done.

“It is not an exaggeration to say our nation’s food and fiber production capability hangs in the balance with what we do here on this legislation. Time is of the essence. Let us work together to get this done.”

Click on the PLAY button in the Video Box below to watch Senator Roberts and his opening comments.




Below are Chairman Roberts’ remarks as prepared for delivery:

I thank Chairman Conaway for passing the gavel to the Senate for the duration of this Farm Bill Conference. I recall a day back in March 1996, when as the House Agriculture Committee Chairman, I passed the gavel to the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee at the time—Senator Richard Lugar.

Today, we continue that tradition as we work to agree on legislation that is critically important to our nation—the 2018 Farm Bill.

This is the eighth farm bill that I’ve been a part of during my time in public service. The circumstances are always a bit different, but we all have a history of working together in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion to find solutions and to get farm bills done. If it was important then, it is even more so now.

The goal, the responsibility, the absolute requirement is to provide farmers, ranchers, growers and everyone within America’s agriculture and food value chain certainty and predictability during these very difficult times. This is paramount to many other issues and concerns. Let me repeat that: getting a farm bill done is paramount to many other issues and concerns.

Both the House and Senate recognize this need. Clearly, both have taken the steps to get us to this point today. We are very close to the finish line, but we still have a lot of work—a lot of compromise—that remains to be done.

It is not an exaggeration to say our nation’s food and fiber production capability hangs in the balance with what we do here on this legislation. Time is of the essence. Let us work together to get this done.

You have the text of both bills in the conference documents in front of you.

We are endeavoring to craft a 2018 Farm Bill that meets the needs of producers across all regions and all crops. All of agriculture is struggling, not just one or two commodities. We must have a bill that works across our great nation.

We must ensure that our voluntary conservation programs are keeping farm land in operation while protecting our agriculture lands, forests, and other natural resources.

Let us not forget that in a few short decades, the global population will top 9 billion people. Agriculture production will need to double in the near future to meet that demand. Accomplishing this task requires efficiency, not just on the farm and ranch, but also in government.

We must focus on program integrity and commonsense investments to strengthen our nutrition programs to ensure the pathway to long-term success of those in need of assistance.

I share the goal of promoting work and self-sufficiency among SNAP participants.

And, we can find ways to work toward that goal by improving the program. Investments in employment and training that demonstrate success, partnerships with the private sector, and more accountability can all help get folks back on the path to long-term employment.

We can find ways to provide tools to states, to people, to employers and to non-profits that will get people working again.

And, we can further improve the integrity of the nutrition program, with changes to the verification process, better quality control oversight and elimination of much of the state “performance” bonuses.

These types of measures could bring more accountability to the program and will lead to reduced error rates, which have resulted in billions of dollars in improper SNAP payments.

And today, with trade and market uncertainty, to say the least, we must provide certainty for our trade promotion and research programs.

Feeding an increasing global population is not simply an agriculture challenge, it is a national security challenge. Show me a country that cannot feed itself, and I’ll show you a nation in chaos.

This means we need to grow more and raise more with fewer resources. That will take investments in research, new technology, lines of credit, and proper risk management. It takes the government providing tools, and then getting out of the producer’s way.

We must make tough choices and be judicious with the scarce resources we have. Each of our Committees have asked tough questions and reexamined programs to determine their effectiveness over the last several years. We must ensure programs accomplish their fundamental purposes.

Agriculture, and specifically the Farm Bill, has consistently answered the call to do more with less.

And, to those who say passing a Farm Bill in this environment is a daunting task, I say together we can get it done.

All of us travel frequently to our home states. As I traveled across Kansas and met with folks from back home over the last several weeks, producers are yet again facing the wrath of Mother Nature. There are some farms that are facing drought, and others have encountered flooding in recent days.

Many producers are not looking forward to harvest, let alone the tough conversations with their lenders in the weeks ahead.

But, we must embrace the attitude of our producers – optimism and ingenuity. A farmer doesn’t plant the seed in the ground without the faith and optimism of harvesting a good crop.

That means we must do our job. We MUST agree to a bill that provides those same men and women the much needed certainty and predictability they deserve.

We must commit to making the tough choices—and compromising to find common ground—to develop the best bill possible under these circumstances.

And, importantly, we must agree to a bill that provides our farmers, ranchers, and other rural stakeholders much needed certainty and predictability.



Source- Senate Ag Committee



   

 

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